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The Realpolitik of Revolution

By       Message William T. Hathaway       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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What will it take to end this ghastly cycle of violence and bring lasting peace, not just end this current war but create a peaceful society in which humanity lives cooperatively and harmoniously? The socialist answer is we must overthrow capitalism, a system that inevitably generates conflict and inequality. And overthrowing it will require a revolution.

What will it take to make a revolution? The socialist answer is the majority of people must realize that capitalism can't provide them a decent life. Then a militant party based in the international working class must lead them in transferring the means of production -- the natural resources, factories, banks, and major corporations -- from private into public ownership.

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In the past decade progress has been accelerating for both of these conditions. Global capitalism is lurching from one crisis to another, and the ruling class is resorting to desperate measures to keep it alive, including war abroad and repression at home. More and more people are seeing how their and their children's lives are being degraded to keep corporate profits rolling in. Skepticism about the official reasons for the current war is growing, as are distrust and dislike of governments and corporations. On the Left, the debate about proper theory and practice has sharpened, and the differences among parties have become clearer.

But we're a long way from revolution. Most people in the wealthy countries still believe that reforms within the system can reverse capitalism's decline. Most in the poor countries are still caught within authoritarian social and religious structures that hinder them from mobilizing. The Left is still unable to unite around a revolutionary program.

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The Western ruling class is gambling that war and repression can delay their demise. They could be right. It is possible that by massively increasing their barbarism, they can continue their domination of Mideast oil and crush dissent at home. Capitalists have resorted to fascism before when they were in deep trouble, and they're willing to do it again.

If they succeed in tightening their grip on us and the world, they may be able to squeeze out another hundred years of profits. This would indeed be a dismal century for humanity and our environment, far worse than now. Their next wars will be against their rivals in Russia and China. The capitalist imperative -- for individuals, corporations, and nations -- is dominate or go under. In this phase of global consolidation the battle becomes all consuming. Lasting peace is impossible under capitalism.

But if they lose the current war, they'll lose their favorable oil leases and they won't be able to build the Afghan pipeline, both of which they need to maintain their economic advantage and high profits. They'll also lose access to consumer and labor markets in many Muslim countries.

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These losses will precipitate a crisis more severe than any we've seen yet. Then the only way for Western capitalists to keep extracting profits will be to crack down even harder on their workers. When that happens and the workers start fighting back, we'll have the objective conditions for revolution. And if the working class has militant, non-reformist leadership, we'll eventually win. Then the international Left can build socialism and put an end to dominator systems such as capitalism and fundamentalism.

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William T. Hathaway is a refugee from the USA now living in Germany. His environmental novel, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, tells of an old woman and a young man working together to defeat the corporations that control our shrinking (more...)

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